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Mercedes eyes to regain top rank in India

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Looking to hit back at its rival BMW, which has toppled it from the top position in the Indian luxury segment, German auto major Mercedes Benz is planning to introduce up to 10 new brands in the next three years to regain the numero uno position by 2015.

BMW, on the other hand, said it is not ready to concede the position just yet and would redefine leadership by taking it to a new level of brand positioning, customer satisfaction, technology and also being an employer of choice.

“Our entire product portfolio relevant to the Indian market will come here in the next three years. I think, we will have nine to ten new brands by then,” Mercedes-Benz India Director (Sales & Marketing), Debashis Mitra said.

The new products will also include the company’s smaller cars, he added.

On its losing numero uno position in the luxury car market in India to compatriot BMW, Mitra said: "We are the market leader in all the segments we are present, except the E-Class... The actual game of numbers will start when all luxury manufacturers will have their all products here."

He said when the company has its full range of products in the next three years, Mercedes Benz would try to regain the number one position in the Indian luxury car market by 2015.

Mercedes Benz India had first lost its leadership position to BMW in 2009. Mercedes Benz had sold 3,247 units as against BMW's 3,619 units. In 2010 too, Mercedes Benz sold 5,819 cars compared to 6,246 units of BMW.

Mitra said Mercedes Benz's aim at present is to have a “profitable growth”, adding BWM had gained in volumes due to the entry level SUV X1 and not necessarily due to growth in other core segment of luxury cars.

“During January to July period this year, Mercedes Benz has sold 3,991 units. However, BMW has sold 5,364 units and out of that 1,620 units comprise of its small SUV X1,” he said, adding Mercedes Benz is not present in that category.

BMW, however, refuted it saying its success in India was not product specific but attributed it to brand positioning wooing customers across generations.

“Our cars are positioned to attract all generations of people who aspire to have a BMW. We have no problem in selling cars to uncles, fathers, mothers and pops. Maybe that is the reason for our success,” BMW India President Andreas Schaaf said.

On the market leadership position, BMW said it is confident of maintaining its number one position, which it has done for the last two years, in future too.

“For us leadership is not just about sales numbers. We want to take it to a new level by leading in every perspective of brand positioning, customer satisfaction, technology and also being an employer of choice,” he added.